Navigating Pregnancy Skin (When You’re Half Asleep And Throwing Up)

Navigating Pregnancy Skin (When You’re Half Asleep And Throwing Up)

Being pregnant was undoubtedly one of the wildest things I’ve ever experienced. Yes, it’s a total miracle to grow a tiny human in your body—organs shifting out of the way and new bodily functions kicking into gear—but I think it’s ok to say it’s also really, really hard at times. 

Between feeling nauseous for what felt like an eternity and being so tired 8PM became the new 10PM, I also had to get reacquainted with my skin because suddenly, after some 31 years of being reliably combo, it changed completely. 

Of course, everyone’s pregnancy, like their skin, is a unique snowflake and our experiences will differ greatly but if you can find one morsel of helpful information here to get you through the next few months, I am glad I could be of some help. 

First trimester

In hindsight, the changes to my skin in the initial months were the first sign I was pregnant but naturally, I took no notice. What I did notice is that I suddenly had perioral dermatitis, a truly frustrating skin condition that often appears after overdoing it with actives and can take months/years to settle or disappear. 

After trawling the internet, I quickly discovered the best course of action was no action. In other words, avoid my skincare routine and literally do nothing. This meant no actives, no oils, no masks, and no makeup. I stripped it back to sunscreen and moisturiser (fragrance-free and lightweight) and tried to ignore the PD. I only used water to wash my face and felt bereft every time I saw my dozens of skincare products collecting dust. 

With my hormones going into overdrive, I realise this bare minimum routine was probably the best thing for me regardless of my PD. Who knows what breakouts or irritations might have occurred if I’d stayed the course with my active-heavy routine. 

Body-wise I used Nécessaire’s The Body Wash and switched between Skin Wizard and Oil Over for hydrate-y nourishment post-shower. I figured I could spend a little extra on my body routine, given my face regimen was so pared back. 

Second trimester

What was consistent about my skin and pregnancy was once I hit a new trimester, everything would change. In my second trimester, that meant my skin becoming desert-dry and flaking off so dramatically that it was almost comical (but of course I didn’t laugh, I cried a lot).

What I had on my hands (which were also ludicrously dry) was a whole new skin type and PD to master. And I literally had nothing rich enough to quench the dryness and soothe my skin. I quickly invested in Cetaphil’s Dry to Very Dry Sensitive Skin Moisturising Cream for my face and body (I’d layer this over my body oil) and slathered it on several times a day, going through dozens of tubes and tubs. Luckily, the thicker cream didn’t irritate my PD, which eventually calmed and disappeared towards the end of this trimester. 

Third trimester

You’ll often hear about pregnancy glow, something that is scheduled to arrive around the second trimester and treat you and your skin to some well-earned compliments.

Well, my son is three weeks old and I’m still waiting for the glow. Not once in the nine months I was pregnant did I wake up feeling glowy. There’s a lot of wives' tales about this (girls nab your glow, salty cravings and it’s a boy) but all I can say is for me, pregnancy glow very rudely eluded me. What I had was dull, ultra dry skin and little at my disposal to combat it. However, with my PD disappearing I dipped my toe back into the skincare pool and risked slotting a facial oil back into my routine. I began applying Face Hero post-shower/cleansing (still with water) every morning and evening around the 7-month mark and my skin drank it up. 

It also had the added benefit of giving me a subtle glow that I was desperately deserving of. 

Fourth trimester

I feel lucky to report my skin returned to its pre-pregnancy equilibrium quite quickly after my son arrived. Gone is the extreme dryness and PD, although in its place tired face and limp hair. But that’s fine, as I can now finally reach for the vitamin c and my beloved masks again. 

To refresh my skin I’m using Ren’s Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask once a week (or when I can remember) and following it up with The Repair Shop. And because I have a tiny hot water bottle attached to me at all hours, I have a stack of Transformazing sheet masks in the fridge and have been popping them on when I breastfeed, which makes me feel a little more me and fake that pregnancy glow that still hasn’t shown up.